Comic Sans

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Comic Sans MS
ComicSansSpec3.svg
Category Script (typefaces)
Designer(s) Vincent Connare
Foundry Microsoft
Date released 1994

Comic Sans MS, commonly referred to as Comic Sans, is a sans-serif casual script typeface designed by Vincent Connare and released in 1994 by Microsoft Corporation. It is a casual, non-connecting script inspired by comic book lettering, intended for use in informal documents and educational materials.

The typeface has been supplied with Microsoft Windows since the introduction of Windows 95, initially as a supplemental font in the Windows Plus Pack and later in Microsoft Comic Chat. Describing it, Microsoft has explained that "this casual but legible face has proved very popular with a wide variety of people."[1] It is also pre-installed in Apple OS X and Windows Phone devices, but not under Android, iOS or Linux.[2]

The typeface's widespread use, often in situations for which it was not intended, has been criticized.[3]

History[edit]

Early versions of Comic Sans had an eye in the Euro sign.[4]

Microsoft designer Vincent Connare began work on Comic Sans in October 1994. Connare had already created child-oriented fonts for various applications, so when he saw a beta version of Microsoft Bob that used Times New Roman in the word balloons of cartoon characters, he felt that the result was a formal look inappropriate for a program intended to introduce younger users to computers. His decision was to create a new face based on the lettering style of comic books he had in his office, specifically The Dark Knight Returns (lettered by John Costanza) and Watchmen (lettered by Dave Gibbons).[5]

He completed the face too late for inclusion in MS Bob, but the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which also used cartoon guides and speech bubbles, began to use it. The speech bubbles eventually were phased out and replaced by actual sound, but Comic Sans stayed for the program’s pop-up windows and help sections. The typeface later shipped with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack. It then became a standard font for the OEM version of Windows 95. Finally, the font became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The font is also used in Microsoft Comic Chat, which was released in 1996 with Internet Explorer 3.0.

Microsoft has reportedly claimed to retain the original Mac computer on which Comic Sans was created in its collection; Connare disputes this, saying the computer in Microsoft's collection was his older personal computer.[6][7]

Comic Sans Pro (2011)[edit]

Comic Sans Pro is an improved and expanded version created by Terrance Weinzierl from Monotype Imaging. While retaining the original classic design of the core characters, it adds new italic variants of the original fonts, swashes, small capitals, extra ornaments and symbols including speech bubbles, onomatopoeia and dingbats, as well as text figures and other stylistic alternates.[8][9][10] Originally appearing as part of Ascender 2010 Font Pack as Comic Sans 2010, it was first released on April Fools' Day, causing some to initially assume it was a joke.[11][12][13]

The italic fonts later appeared in Windows 8.[14]

Reception[edit]

Installed on the majority of computers worldwide, Comic Sans sees widespread use. Within four years of its release on Windows, designers had begun to argue that it had become overused, often through use in serious and formal documents in which it could appear too informal or even as inappropriate and disrespectful.[3] Examples of uses to which it has been considered poorly suited have been a Dutch war memorial, printed advice to rape victims, blog posts by a law firm and as a font recommended for résumés in careers training.[15][16][17][18]

The font is nonetheless very popular with education users up to university level, with many schools requiring it in their style guides or even checklists monitoring use of good teaching methods.[19][20][21]

Opposition[edit]

The Boston Phoenix reported on disgruntlement over the widespread use of the font, especially its incongruous use for writing on serious subjects, with the complaints urged on by a campaign started by two Indianapolis graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs, via their website "Ban Comic Sans".[22] The movement was conceived in 1999 by the two designers, after an employer insisted that one of them use Comic Sans in a children's museum exhibit,[5] and in early 2009, the movement was "stronger now than ever".[5] The web site's main argument is that a typeface should match the tone of its text, and that the irreverence of Comic Sans is often at odds with a serious message, such as a "do not enter" sign.[23]

In the 2005 session of the youth model parliament in Ontario, the New Democratic Party included the clause "Ban the font known as Comic Sans" in an omnibus ban bill.[24]

Comic book artist Dave Gibbons, whose work was one of the inspirations for the font, said that it was "a shame they couldn't have used just the original font, because [Comic Sans] is a real mess. I think it's a particularly ugly letter form."[25]

Film producer and New York Times essayist Errol Morris wrote in an August 2012 posting, "The conscious awareness of Comic Sans promotes — at least among some people — contempt and summary dismissal." With the help of a professor, he conducted an online experiment and found that Comic Sans, in comparison to five other fonts (Baskerville, Helvetica, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Computer Modern), makes readers slightly less likely to believe that a statement they are reading is true.[26]

Commenting on its critics, Connare said they should "get another hobby."[27]

Celebration[edit]

In the Netherlands popular radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg and Sander Lantinga decided to celebrate the font by having a Comic Sans day on the first Friday of July. Comic Sans Day has been held since 2009. Some Dutch companies have their website in Comic Sans on this day.[28]

Font expert Stephen Coles defended its use, commenting that it has "a monopoly on informality" among common computer fonts, noting that among them "only one can be universally described as 'casual', 'fun', 'playful'.[29] He nonetheless recommended that designers seek out alternative professional fonts in the same style for variety.

Notable uses[edit]

Conference Pierre and Marie Curie - Science in freedom held September 15, 2012 in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, France

A 2010 Princeton University study involving presenting students with text in a font slightly more difficult to read found that they consistently retained more information from material displayed in so-called disfluent or ugly fonts (Monotype Corsiva, Haettenschweiler, Comic Sans Italicized were used) than in a simple, more readable font such as Arial.[30]

During the summer of 2010, NBA superstar LeBron James left his former team at the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a highly publicized media affair. The majority owner of the team (at the time), Dan Gilbert, reacted by posting a (ranting) letter to Cavalier fans. One of the ways the letter was heavily derided was for its use of Comic Sans font.[31][32]

In July 2012, when the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced at CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, the spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment, attracted comment by using the font in her presentation of the results.[33][34][35][36] As a 2014 April Fools' Day joke, CERN later claimed that it would be switching all its publications to Comic Sans.[37]

In April 2014, OpenBSD announced the LibreSSL project, claiming to have been the first to "weaponize" Comic Sans as a means for soliciting donations.[38][39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Typeface Descriptions & Histories". nickshanks.com. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Font Family Reunion: Comic Sans MS". fontfamily.io. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  3. ^ a b "What's so wrong with Comic Sans?". BBC News (BBC). 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  4. ^ Connare, Vincent. "Keynote: From the Dark Side… Speak to Me". Ampersand Conference 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Steel, Emily (2009-04-17). "Typeface Inspired by Comic Books Has Become a Font of Ill Will". Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.). Archived from the original on 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  6. ^ Landry, Shane. "Twitter post". Twitter. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Connare, Vincent. "Twitter post". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Comic Sans Pro Typeface Family Makes its Debut - Comic Sans Pro Adds OpenType Features to Extend Versatility of Comic Sans and Inspire New Creativity and Expression". Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Comic Sans Pro Typeface Family Makes its Debut". Archived from the original on 3 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Ascender 2010 font pack features" (PDF). PRWeb. Ascender. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Terri Stone (4 April 2011). "Comic Sans Pro Not an April Fool's Joke |". CreativePro.com. Retrieved 2015-04-17. The Comic Sans typeface, one of Microsoft’s most popular designs, has received a makeover courtesy of Monotype Imaging. Today the company has introduced the four-font Comic Sans Pro family of typefaces. Featuring elements such as speech bubbles and cartoon dingbats, Comic Sans Pro extends the versatility of the original Comic Sans, designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft in 1994. 
  12. ^ "Ascender releases new OpenType font pack for Microsoft Office 2010". Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Ascender Releases New OpenType Font Pack for Microsoft Office 2010". PRWeb. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "New Typefaces for Windows 8". Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  15. ^ Coles, Stephen. "War Memorial in Geffen, NL". Fonts in Use. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Coles, Stephen. "Kurt Cobain memorial". Fonts In Use. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "CV Writing Guide". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  18. ^ Crossley, Andrew. "A personal letter from Andrew J. Crossley (archived)". Andrew Crossley Solicitors. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Learning and Teaching Policy" (PDF). Tollgate School. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "Access Plan" (PDF). St Alphege CE Infant School. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "Accessibility Plan 2014" (PDF). St Leonard's School. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Not Funny: Fighting the Good Fight Against a Very Bad Font". The Boston Phoenix. June 3, 2005. 
  23. ^ "Ban Comic Sans official page". Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Kinch, Tyler (2007-11-11). "NDP calls for ban on Comic Sans typeface". Kinch Blog. Tyler Kinch. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  25. ^ Schofield, Jack (2009-08-12). "Computers draw a new chapter in comics". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  26. ^ Morris, Errol (August 8, 2012). "Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (Part One)". New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  27. ^ Vincent, James (8 April 2014). "Meet Comic Sans' successor: Comic Neue". The Independent. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Comic Sans Dag op 5 juli 2013 - Nieuws - NPO 3FM - Serious Radio". NPO 3FM Serious Radio. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  29. ^ Coles, Stephen. "Why do you think Comic Sans is so widely used by non-designers/PC Users? (Quora comment)". Quora. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  30. ^ Diemand-Yauman, C.; Oppenheimer, D. M.; Vaughan, E. B. (2011). "Fortune favors the bold (and the italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes". Cognition 118 (1): 111–5. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.09.012. PMID 21040910.  edit
  31. ^ "Cavs owner's letter mocked for Comic Sans font". cnn.com. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  32. ^ MG Siegler. "Cavs Owner Goes Online To Rip LeBron A New One… In Comic Sans". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  33. ^ "Press Release". CERN. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  34. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (4 July 2012). "Higgs boson and Comic Sans: the perfect fusion". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  35. ^ "Higgs seminar picture" (JPG). CERN. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  36. ^ Latest update in the search for the Higgs boson. CERN. 4 July 2012. Event occurs at 51:07. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "CERN to switch to Comic Sans". CERN. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  38. ^ "MagicPoint presentation foils". openbsd.org. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  39. ^ "LibreSSL". libressl.org. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

Comic Sans Pro[edit]